About 80% of U.S. Coal Plant Sites Suitable to Host Nuclear Reactors

SOURCE: Reuters | September 16, 2022

As many as 157 retired coal plants and 237 operating coal plant sites across the U.S. could be converted to nuclear power and help the country reach its net-zero emissions goals by 2050, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a report on Tuesday.

The report showed that among the retired or active plant locations, 80% was suited to host advanced reactors smaller than the gigawatt scale.

U.S. carbon emissions from the power sector have plummeted in recent years as utilities retire old coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas, solar and wind power, a shift driven by decreasing prices for these sources and state and federal incentives for renewable energy. 

If a large coal plant was to be replaced by a nuclear power plant of a similar size, more than 650 permanent jobs could be created and greenhouse gas emissions in the region could be slashed by 86%, the study found.

U.S. power companies plan to retire or convert from coal to gas over 14,500 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired plants in 2022, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Thomson Reuters data, yet challenges exist due to supply concerns on renewable energy infrastructure

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